When your feet itch, it can be uncomfortable and infuriating. More often than not, itchy feet are caused by fungal infection (i.e. athlete’s foot). Other skin conditions can also cause itchy feet. For example, if you have eczema your feet may itch. No matter what causes your itchy feet, it is important not to scratch as generally speaking this spreads whatever is causing the problem.
For this reason, many people put concern for itching on the back burner during the day because the mind automatically makes the decision not to scratch. Additionally, during the day while you are awake your body’s levels of cortisone and adrenaline are higher. This naturally acts to reduce the itching sensation.
Unfortunately, while you’re asleep these levels drop and your histamine levels rise. When this happens, You’re very likely to scratch your feet if they itch. Scratching only makes the problem worse and can cause swelling, blisters and open sores.
What you will learn in this article:
- What does it mean when the bottom of your feet itch?
- Can liver problems cause itchy feet?
- Is itchy feet a sign of diabetes?
- Why do my feet feel hot and itchy?
What causes itchy feet?
More often than not, itchy feet are caused by skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis. An even more common cause is athlete’s foot (which is a form of ringworm known as tinea pedis). Other conditions or situations which may cause itchy feet include:
- You may have an allergy to something in the environment or to ingredients in household products such as soap, laundry detergent or perfume
- You may have been affected by deleterious fauna such as hookworms, fleas, ticks or you may have been bitten by a spider
- You may be experiencing an allergic reaction to your shoe and/or sock material
- You may be experiencing hormonal changes. This is especially true if you are pregnant, entering puberty or going through menopause
- You may simply need to improve your foot care routine. Be sure to keep your feet clean and dry and treat the soles with an antiperspirant if you experience excessive sweating
Maintain these good habits to avoid itchy feet
We often tend to forget about taking care of our feet because they are so very far away from the source of our thoughts. This is unfortunate because your feet are the foundation of your body. Taking good care of them provides a firm basis for overall good health.
Your feet contain more than 250,000 sweat glands each. For this reason, feet tend to be damp with sweat and this sets up a perfect environment for bacteria to grow. If you do not keep your feet clean with regular washing, you are inviting health problems.
Always wear properly fitted shoes and socks or stockings that will help absorb sweat and keep your feet dry. Avoid artificial material such as nylon and polyester. Cotton socks are best. Additionally, remember that it is very unwise to wear your shoes constantly. Give your feet a break and allow them to breathe for several hours every day.
While it is a good idea to give your feet exposure to air daily, be sure to wear sandals to protect the soles of your feet. When you walk barefooted, you run the risk of injuring the soles of your feet. Additionally, if you walk barefoot on damp soil you may pick up hookworms. This can cause itchy feet and health complications.
Itchy feet are usually symptomatic of greater problems
It is very rare for itchy feet to be an isolated health problem. More often than not, when your feet itch it indicates that there is something else systemically wrong. Watch out for these itchy feet symptoms:
- Open sores and/or blisters
- Peeling and cracking skin
- Open source and bleeding
- Skin that is flaking
- Red, inflamed skin
Be vigilant about watching for these signs and symptoms. If you are not paying close attention, you may worsen the situation by automatically scratching. This is especially true at night when your guard and your hormone levels are low.
As soon as you notice any of these symptoms, take care to keep your feet clean, give them regular exposure to air and treat any sores with appropriate over-the-counter ointments and creams. If your problem is not resolved within a few days, be sure to see your doctor.
Likewise, if you try and over-the-counter or home remedy with some success, but then your symptoms recur you should see your doctor. There are many over-the-counter medications containing antifungal and steroidal ingredients that can have temporarily positive effects on itchy skin conditions; however, these do nothing to treat the source of the problem.
It is very possible to simply accustom yourself to a foot condition such as athlete’s foot. When this happens, you may feel that you can just learn to live with it, but this is a bad idea. It can take many years for conditions such as this to become intolerable. In the meantime, the underlying cause of the condition is worsening within the rest of your body.
Read also our article Causes And Treatments For Itchy Big Toes.
What to expect at the doctor’s office
When you see your doctor about itchy feet, he or she will conduct a complete and thorough physical. This may include taking skin samples to examine microscopically. This will result in a firm diagnosis and a solid treatment plan.
If your problem is caused by a fungal infection, your doctor may prescribe a topical antifungal medication and possibly an oral medication. He or she may also recommend an anti-fungal diet.
If your problem is caused by a skin condition or simply dry skin in between toes or on your feet, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription creams or ointments.
Sometimes oral steroids and cortisone creams are prescribed for itchy feet and other itchy skin conditions.
When you talk with your doctor, be sure to discuss over-the-counter products that may work for you. If your doctor gives you a prescription for oral or topical medication, be sure you understand how to use this medication.
Don’t stop using the medication if your symptoms abate. By doing so, you ensure that they will return in greater force than before. Take or use your full course of prescribed medication and then watch carefully for any return of symptoms. If your symptoms return, see your doctor right away.
What can you do to prevent having itchy feet?
Maintaining a healthy, natural whole foods diet is the basis of all good health. You should strive to avoid processed foods, sugar, chemicals and artificial ingredients in your diet at all times. Additionally, you should practice common sense personal care habits such as:
- If your feet itch at night, be sure to wear socks to prevent scratching them
- Wear flip-flops in public locker rooms, showers and pool areas
- Pay close attention to your doctor’s advice and follow it
- Be sure to wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day
- Wear clean, absorbent socks made of a natural material
- Purchase high quality shoes that fit you well
- Trim your toenails regularly
When you take good care of your health and your feet, you are unlikely to have problems with itchy feet. If you do experience itching on your feet, follow the tips presented here to resolve your problem quickly and effectively.
Disclaimer: PediReviews.co.uk does not provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.